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Using cloud computing and storage for business continuity

Security Strategies Alert By M. E. Kabay and Michael Miora, CISSP-ISSMP, FBCI Michael Miora, CISSP-ISSMP, FBCI, Network World
January 26, 2011 12:00 AM ET
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Michael Miora, CISSP-ISSMP, FBCI continues with the second part of his thoughts on business continuity planning (BCP) and cloud computing. Everything that follows is entirely Michael's work with minor edits.

Your data, not your head in the clouds

Despite the widespread rejection of practical implementation of All is not lost. The secret to success in this endeavor is to make backups and disaster recovery protections a natural consequence of something else that makes computing better and more convenience. That has been the Holy Grail of the business continuity and disaster recovery planning (BC/DR) world. Unlike that mythical and unsuccessful, however, we have found the magic, we just have not fully yet realized that we found it.

Cloud computing, in the form of virtual machines with expandable computing capacity, together with cloud storage have the potential for lowering the cost of business computing by removing or lowering the cost of resizing computing needs or migrating platforms. Cloud storage, for example, empowers the small business to keep its most current data in the cloud (with appropriate security precautions, of course) so that all employees have instant and accurate information anywhere, any time and on any computer or device they are carrying. 

Gone is the need to synchronize copies of price lists, availability or specifications. Gone is the necessity to boot up, sign in and access central files. Sales people, technicians and professionals of all stripes can access data that is stored safely and securely in the cloud.

Cloud storage providers are generally professionally managed. They cannot afford outages and data losses. That means that if a business stores its data in the cloud, the business will have little more to do to achieve de facto resiliency and protection.

Offerings

There are many companies that offer cloud-based data storage and computing. Some are very well known and some are not. Interestingly, few of them call out business continuity and disaster recovery as a benefit of cloud computing; and, those who do cite BC/DR do so in very limited ways. Why don't they scream out that their solution includes a viable, inexpensive and effective solution for BC/DR?

Here are a few examples.

• The biggest player in the field is, according to TechTarget, (Free Registration Required) Amazon Web Services. Amazon Web Services is a full service and robust offering that includes dedicated and virtual computing as well as storage. They offer many pages of explanations and guidance for how to sign up and use their services. They even provide an online calculator that yields pricing results that are as good as your estimate of your own needs.

They do not, however, appear to consider BC/DR as a significant benefit. They do not delve into the strong benefits their offering could provide to SMB and larger enterprises for BC/DR. They do ask on one Web page the question, "How can I implement reliable, cost-effective back-up and disaster recovery plans?" The answer, however, is not so easy to find.

M. E. Kabay, PhD, CISSP-ISSMP, specializes in security and operations management consulting services and teaching. He is Chief Technical Officer of Adaptive Cyber Security Instruments, Inc. and Associate Professor of Information Assurance in the School of Business and Management at Norwich University. Visit his Web site for white papers and course materials.

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